In the world of legal agreements, deed polls can serve a distinct and special purpose. There’s a good chance you’ve heard of various types of contracts and how they can help your business- it’s always good to be well informed on this topic. However, deed polls are a different type of legal agreement and when the right circumstances arise, utilising them can be extremely useful. 

In this guide we’ve prepared, we’ll discuss what deed polls are, how they differ from contracts and where you might need them. Keep reading to know more about this crucial legal document. 

What Is A Deed Poll? 

A deed poll is a legally binding agreement, with only one party entering it. That party can consist of a single individual or a number of individuals, all signing the deed poll for the same purpose.The party signing the deed poll is usually bound to perform a specific promise and is released from the deed poll upon the completion of it. 

What Is The Difference Between A Contract And A Deed Poll?

You might be thinking, this sounds just like a contract, right? 

Even though both deed polls and contracts are legally binding agreements, they differ from each other greatly. 

The main difference between the two is the need for consideration

A contract usually has two or more parties, where both parties receive some kind of benefit when the contract is performed. Hence, the requirement for consideration is satisfied. A deed poll only has one party and it’s not necessary they gain something at the end of the agreement. 

Essentially, a deed poll is a unilateral agreement whereas a contract requires there to be mutual obligations between parties.  

What Are Some Key Elements Of A Deed Poll? 

When distinguishing deed polls from other types of legal agreements, it helps to know the main elements that a deed poll will usually contain. Some of these elements include: 

  • Capacity: Much like contracts, the person or persons signing a deed poll must be fit to do so 
  • Signature: A deed poll will also require a signature
  • Witness: A deed poll can sometimes require a witness to legitimise it (more on this later)  
  • Unilateral Nature: As we mentioned, there should only be one signing party to a deed poll 
  • Written Agreement:  It’s rare (and ill advised) for deed polls to be in oral format. Generally, a deed poll will be a written agreement 
  • Legal requirements: Depending on the nature of the deed poll, it might need to adhere to particular legal regulations 

Keep in mind, deed polls will need to cater to the situation they are being used in. Therefore, this isn’t a definitive list. Rather, a brief overview of what can potentially be seen in a deed poll.  

When Do You Need A Deed Poll?  

In business, there’s a number of circumstances where a deed poll will be the right kind of legal agreement to go with. Some instances where you might need a deed poll are: 

  • Changes to company details
  • Amending important business articles
  • Releasing another’s debts or obligations 
  • Transferring property 
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Dissolution of the business 
  • Confirmation of identity 

Deed polls can be a great way to make sure your business matters stay secure and protected, even in scenarios where a contract isn’t necessarily applicable. However, it can be difficult to determine what legal agreement is better suited for certain situations. When this happens, we don’t recommend taking a guess! It’s always better to hand your questions over to a legal expert, so they can clarify things for you.  

Who Can Witness A Deed Poll? 

Most deeds generally require a witness and a deed poll is no different. The final step in making your deed poll a legally binding agreement may require you to get it signed under the supervision of a witness. 

However, this will depend highly on the context in which your deed polls are being utilised. 

Whether you get your deed poll witnessed and by whom is contingent on the deed poll itself, plus the regulations of where you live. Firstly, certain deed polls are regulated by state laws, so it’s important to see if any laws apply to you. There’s a chance your deed poll might need to be witnessed by someone specific, like a justice of peace or a police officer. If you’re confused or need any guidance, then chatting to a legal expert can help clear things up. 

Secondly, company regulations are also likely to apply. For instance, if you’re preparing a deed poll for a change in company details, the Company Constitution might require this to be done with a witnessing signature from two company directors. 

When preparing a deed poll, it’s vital to do your due diligence on what requirements may apply and execute them as necessary. That way, your deed poll can be a legitimate legal agreement. 

Next Steps 

Deed polls can be a useful legal agreement. It’s always good to know the best time and way to use them, so you can get the most out of your deed polls. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • A deed poll is a legally binding agreement often involving a single party or multiple individuals signing for a common purpose 
  • While both are legally binding, contracts require mutual obligations and the exchange of benefits between parties, whereas deed polls are unilateral agreements, often without the need for consideration
  • Deed polls typically include elements such as capacity, signatures, witnesses, their unilateral nature, written format, and adherence to specific legal requirements, 
  • Deed polls are valuable in various business scenarios, including changes to company details, amendments to business articles, debt or obligation releases, property transfers, regulatory compliance, business dissolution, and identity confirmation. They provide security and protection in situations where contracts may not apply
  • Witnessing a deed poll can be essential for its legal validity. The witness requirement depends on the deed poll’s context, state laws and company regulations. Legal experts can help clarify witnessing requirements and ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations
  • Deed polls are valuable legal tools. Understanding when and how to use them is crucial for businesses. Be sure to seek legal advice when you’re unsure about the appropriate legal agreement for your specific situation

If you would like a consultation on understanding deed polls, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or for a free, no-obligations chat.

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